Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Solitude

It was very quiet when I woke up this morning, and I got to thinking about the value of solitude. Not being alone, or loneliness, but solitude. I looked up the definition online.

SOLITUDE
ˈsɒlɪtjuːd/Submit
noun
1.
the state or situation of being alone.
“she savoured her few hours of freedom and solitude”
synonyms: loneliness, solitariness, remoteness, isolation, seclusion, retirement, withdrawal, purdah, privacy, privateness, peace, peace and quiet, desolation

It has a lot of different meanings or interpretations, as you can see. The definition also includes the words ‘withdrawal’ and ‘desolation’, not things I personally associate with solitude. Not until now, anyway. But ‘peace’ and ‘peace and quiet’ are in there, and they are what I feel, when I see or hear the word. Most people like to congregate. They like to be in the company of others. It is supposed to be natural, an instinctive urge to gather together, perhaps for protection and companionship, or to share food and goods.

But as I get older, I welcome solitude more and more. Gone are the days when I didn’t feel complete without the presence of a partner, and a close circle of friends. I have Ollie of course, so perhaps he counts as ‘company’, though it doesn’t feel like that. If I am peaceful, he reflects that in his own mood, and doesn’t disturb me at all.

The irony is that the more I seek solitude, the more it seems to evade me. A quiet country walk can be interrupted by a friendly local who wants to chat. The anticipation of time alone can be shattered by the unexpected arrival of relatives, or a lengthy phone call from a friend. Picking up a book, or just sitting down to think, is certain to precipitate the appearance of a parcel delivery, a neighbour who wants to borrow the hedge-trimmers, or a tele-sales phone call. It’s as if they know you are alone, and don’t want you to be.

Many people abhor solitude. They cannot imagine living alone, not socialising in like-minded groups, or never knowing when their next contact with someone will occur. If all else fails, they will chat to strangers in a supermarket queue, or hang around a bus stop, hoping to converse with anyone who happens by. Society views solitude as a disease to be cured, and the people who actively seek it as sufferers.

I think it’s time to reconsider, and to value this time of peace, reflection, and self-awareness. Celebrate those who cope nicely on their own, or decide to spend time in their own company. It is true that you can be alone in a crowd, if you choose to be. But just as true that you are sometimes never allowed to be alone, when you want to be.

Let me know your take on it, in the comments.

And have a peaceful Sunday. In solitude, if you want it that way.

62 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

  1. A very interesting topic. One of my favourite reads is ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’, by Susan Cain. The world has become a place that pushes us to be extraverts, and to feel guilty if we’re seeking solitude, as you touch on in your post. I have some friends that need to ‘recharge’ by surrounding themselves with people and tasks, and they cannot bear to be alone. Whereas I have to recharge in solitude, with nothing to do, otherwise I really start to feel overwhelmed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, FC. I know some people who appear to be unable to sit in silence for more than a few seconds. They can’t watch a film or TV programme without talking all the way through it, and even when they are looking at Facebook, (or similar) have to relate what they are seeing on the screen
      It’s as if they have to provide a ‘commentary’ on their own life.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  2. Every long holiday weekend, there’s nothing more pleasurable than strolling out onto the usually congested Boston streets and experiencing an emptiness second only to starring in “The Omega Man”. (Where’d everyone go? Who cares?, says I.) It makes me relish the thought of 96% of the population permanently disappearing into another dimension. I have yet to determine whether this means I crave solitude or that I have become alarmingly antisocial.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Public opinion would label you anti-social, undoubtedly.
      But I would simply presume that you have the wit to exist in your own world.
      (Maybe they all got 0/25 in your demon quiz, and are avoiding you?)
      Best wishes, Pete. 🙂

      Like

  3. I used to really enjoy time on my own but it is almost unheard of now. Between work, being a mum and being a wife, I am almost always busy with someone else. I have recently taken up running though and those three half hours a week on my own are very good for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have loved time alone since I was 10 when we moved into a large rambling house and I got my own bedroom. Right now my solitude is being taken over by three kids aged 9,10 and 11 playing some very raucous card game. But I am enjoying the noise and am happy that they don’t have their eyes on screens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have never had children, though I now have grown-up step-children, and a grandchild, by default.
      To be honest, Elizabeth, those noisy family occasions are the main reason I usually seek solitude. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I actually think I quite like solitude, although as you say it very much depends upon the definition you use, but with two young children running around the place I grab it whilst I can no matter how you define it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A really reflective article.The herding power of advertising and our prolific social media culture steers us away from celebrating and recognising the diversity of all our individual personality types and inclinations. Periods of solitude are so refreshing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m pretty content with my own company and actually try and avoid crowds at all costs, but I must admit when the OH is away for more than a week I do start to feel a bit antsy and have been known to strike up a conversation with the check-out person at the supermarket just to hear another voice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We all feel different about being alone, Jude. When Julie was away with her daughter in September, The only person I spoke to every day (except Ollie) was her, when she rang in the evening. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. An interesting take on solitude…
    Many times, I’ve climbed (rock scrambled) the Calico Hills (composed of Aztec sandstone) in Red Rock Canyon just west of Las Vegas. Arriving at the top, roughly 700 ft. (213 m) above the parking area, I take in a vast panorama that includes not only the length of Red Rock Canyon but also the entire Las Vegas metropolitan area. You can even see as far as Arizona. Visitors typically play on the rocks at the base of the hills, and technical climbers tackle the lower (and more accessible) rock faces. I don’t recall ever encountering anyone atop the Calico Hills. So although there are people (who could be mistaken for ants) far below me, and millions of people going about their lives in the city spread out before me, I experience a certain shade of solitude. It’s very peaceful. There have been times when I wanted to just stay there, and never come down.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I value my solitude Pete. I live alone since my girls married but hear from them each day. I have family about and am never alone for a holiday or birthday. I plan my week – shopping, doctor’s appointments, cleaning, washing and errands – and have the rest of the time to my self to read, write or snooze. It’s very pleasant to wake in the morning and know I have nothing to do that day!

    Rest Regards

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I live in the heart of the country – not a sound often just the birds, wind and trees. In solitude I find my connection to it all. Love this poem by Jeffers – “There is not an atom in all the universes / But feels every other atom; gravitation, electromagnetism, light, heat, and the other / Flamings, the nerves in the night’s black flesh, flow them together; the stars, the winds and the people: one energy, One existence, one music, one organism…..”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pete, as you know, I went to the Grand Canyon a month ago, by myself, and once I got away from the hordes of people looking at this magnificent wonder, I found myself alone – in solitude…time to think, reflect, relax…away from the noise of the world for a few minutes, and it was bliss…

    Liked by 3 people

  12. It is extremely difficult to achieve solitude in today’s hectic, frantic-paced world. Even in the midst of a supposedly peaceful church service there is always that individual whose cell phone goes off and rings and then he or she begins to chatter on it. But I have heard that in some parts of Antartica it is so silent at times that one can hear a pin drop on the ice.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I have always been comfortable with myself…..I do a lot of writing and I need to be isolated and my better half is a master at keeping me on track by intercepting anyone that tries to enter my solitude state. I feel people that do not like solitude are those that do not particularly like themselves….just a thought….chuq

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I love company, and fortunately am frequently out with friends, but I do value solitude too. ‘Me’ time is important, and just as well as I live alone. A mix of existences, as someone else has said

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I love being alone, but not sure how I would get on actually living alone. Loneliness is probably experienced for most of us when we are single and have moved to a new place and a new job and are ALONE. I had the experience when we just moved here and my husband went back up to work for the week. In the space of a few days I had gone from living in a famy of five and working at Heathrow to being on my own knowing nobody – I wondered if I existed only in relation to other people!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I have been alone for most of my life to be honest and as such I do at times like the peace and quiet as well. It’s often hard to find as you say, especially in this age of social media, but I am luckily one of those people that isn’t dependable on his mobile phone. That said, I also feel lonelyness a lot, and as I get older more often than not I feel that feeling creeping up on me more. I try to deal with it as best I can. I have a lot of hobbies, and I do love being here on wordpress as well, discussing things with people that have really turned into good friens. But I would not mind having a partner in my life, but seeing as I am now 42 and have spent most of my life alone, I am slowly losing hope on that point. So, I try to enjoy the solitude whenever I can as well. Have a great sunday Pete! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Michel. Since 1967, I have rarely not been with a girlfriend, or one of three wives. As well as a large circle of friends, that I used to see all the time. Perhaps my past is why I have come to value solitude in old age? I don’t really know the answer, but I am aware that I now enjoy the prospect of time alone.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all 😊 But seeing as I have now spent nearly 22 years without a girl, with the years going ever faster, that feeling of lonelyness at times gets the best of me. All in all though, I do have to say I, having been alone for such a long time, I have gotten used to it, and am able to deal with it better. And who knows what the future will bring 😊😊

        Liked by 2 people

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